The Central Crime Branch has arrested four more people, including an employee of a mobile phone service provider, in connection with the supply of over 1,000 SIM cards to the Chinese gang allegedly behind the illegal online apps which provided instant loans and later collected exorbitant rates of interest by threatening and harassing people availing them.
A Chennai resident had claimed to have been threatened and abused by staffers of these online loan firms, saying he had availed a loan of Rs 5,000 through one of these apps but found that only Rs 3,500 had been credited to his account. He said he was pressured by the staffers to repay the full amount within a week. As he delayed his loan repayment, the staffers advised him to take a fresh loan from another app to clear his due and before he knew what he was getting into, he had availed loans through 40 such apps and his due amount had ballooned to Rs 4 lakh, he said.
He then approached Chennai Police and filed a formal complaint. City police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Agarwal took up the case and a special team of officers from the cybercrime wing and the usury and chit fund wing was put together to nab the culprits.
The commissioner said the investigators examined the complainant’s bank account details and the other accounts from which he cleared his dues. Based on certain leads, the sleuths then raided a call centre functioning in the name of True Kindle Technology at HSR Layout in Bengaluru. Two directors of the call centre were arrested and on questioning, they confessed to the involvement of China nationals Xiao Ya Mao (38) and Wu Yuanlun (23), who, too, were apprehended. The investigators seized laptops, mobile phone sets and passports from the arrested Chinese men. Close to 110 tele callers were operating on their watch and instant loans were provided through online apps such as Rapid Loan, Quick Loan, Rupee Loan and Cash Map, among others, police said.
After going through their phone records, the team found that the SIM cards was obtained in the name of a software and digital marketing firm named Azacus Techno Solutions Private Limited in Chrompet, Chennai. The sleuths revealed that the SIM cards used by the accused were procured fraudulently by the firm’s directors S Manoj Kumar (30) and SK Muthukumar (28) with the help of two people, Jagathish and Shihasuddin. Police said Shihaussdin worked as the territory sales manager of a mobile service provider.
Police added that the Chennai firm has been functioning since 2019 and had a branch in Bengaluru. The Chinese duo had engaged an Indian woman named Rhea Gupta, approached the firm’s directors through Facebook and placed orders for the SIM cards, police said, adding that the directors agreed to supply 1,100 SIM cards on a commission basis.
The four fresh arrestees in the case were produced before a court which remanded them in judicial custody.